The Wall Street Crash of 1929, also known as the Great Crash, and the Stock Market Crash of 1929, was the worst stock market crash of all time, in which share prices fell by 89 per cent. It contributed to the Great Depression of the 1930s, which affected many countries all around the world.
From June 1914 to January 1920, when demand deposits grew by 96.9 percent, time deposits rose by 126.1 percent. In the great boom of the 1920s, that started after the recession of 1920–21 (a short recession, thanks to the budget cutting and lowering of taxes by Warren Harding), total demand deposits rose from 1921 to 1929 by 36.5 percent. Time deposits in banks expanded in the same period by 75.9 percent. The great boom of the 1920s (also called "Roaring Twenties") was largely fueled by credit expansion going into time deposits. The greatest expansion of time deposits came in Central Reserve Cities (New York and Chicago), where the Fed’s open market operations were all conducted, as opposed to Reserve Cities and Country Banks. As acknowledged by Federal Reserve officials, time or savings deposits were then, for all practical purposes, equivalent to demand deposits and should be paid on demand in case of a run on a bank.
With the passage of the Federal Reserve Act, President Wilson appointed Benjamin Strong to the most powerful post in the Federal Reserve System, Governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He made quickly this position dominant in the System and decided on Fed policy without consulting or even against the wishes of the Federal Reserve Board in Washington. Strong was the dominant leader of the Fed from 1914 until his death in 1928. He pursued an inflationary policy, to finance the war effort for WWI, connected to the interests of the House of Morgan. Another motivation was the attempt to prop up the Bank of England in the 1920s, when it returned to the gold standard with an overvalued pound. To prevent the loss of gold to the States, its governor Montagu Norman secretly convinced Strong to inflate in order to help England. The expansion ended only after Strong's death and the Great Depression followed soon after. In 1928 Strong admitted that "very few people indeed realized that we were now paying the penalty for the decision which was reached early in 1924 to help the rest of the world back to a sound financial and monetary basis" - that is, to help Britain maintain a phony and inflationary form of gold standard.
The inflation was also motivated by a desire to help American exporters (particularly farmers), by stimulation of foreign lending. At the same time the U.S. turned to a sharp protectionist policy with the Fordney–McCumber Tariff of 1922. In the foreign lending boom, other countries were hampered in trying to sell their goods to the United States, but were encouraged to borrow dollars. The government did not have any peacetime authority to interfere with loans, but did so illegally. In 1921, President Harding and his cabinet conferred with several American investment bankers, at the instigation of Secretary of Commerce Hoover, to be informed in advance of foreign loans, so that the government "might express itself regarding them". The bankers agreed. Hoover commented that even bad loans helped American exports and provided a cheap form of relief and employment. Later Hoover demanded from bankers, that foreign loans would be inspected by agents of the Department of Commerce. Both requests were mostly ignored. While admitted to be legally unenforceable, it was all in the name of "national interests".
See also: Federal Reserve System
Stock market boom
This particular stock-market correction was bound to be severe because of the unprecedented amount of speculation. In 1929 1,548,707 customers had accounts with America's 29 stock-exchanges. In a population of 120 million, nearly 30 million families had an active association with the market, and a million investors could be called speculators. Moreover, of these nearly two-thirds, or 600,000, were trading on margin, that is on funds they either did not possess or could not easily produce.
The danger of this growth in margin trading was compounded by the mushrooming of investment trusts which marked the last phase of the bull market. Traditionally stocks were valued at about ten times earnings. With high margin trading, earnings on shares, only one or two per cent, were far less than the eight to ten percent interest on loans used to buy them. This meant that any profits were in capital gains alone. Thus, Radio Corporation of America, which had never paid a dividend at all, went from 85 to 410 points in 1928. By 1929 some stocks were selling at 50 times earnings. A market boom based entirely on capital gains is merely a form of pyramid-selling.
By the end of 1928 the new investment trusts were coming onto the market at the rate of one a day and virtually all were archetype inverted pyramids. They had "high leverage"—a new term in 1929—through their own supposedly shrewd investments, and secured phenomenal stock exchange growth on the basis of a very small plinth of real growth. United Founders Corporation, for instance, had been created by a bankrupt with an investment of $500, and by 1929 its nominal resources, which determined its share price, were listed as $686,165,000. Another investment trust had a market value of over a billion dollars but its chief asset was an electric company which in 1921 had been worth only $6 million. These crazy trusts, whose assets were almost entirely dubious paper, gave the boom an additional superstructure of pure speculation, and once the market broke the "high leverage" worked in reverse.
The economy ceased to expand in June, and it was inevitable that this change in the real economy would be reflected in the stock market. The bull market effectively came to an end on September 3, 1929, immediately the shrewder operators returned from vacation and looked hard at the underlying figures. Later rises were merely hiccups in a steady downward trend.
On Monday October 9, for the first time, the ticker-tape could not keep pace with the news of falls and never caught up. Margin calls had begun to go out by telegram the Saturday before, and by the beginning of the week speculators began to realize they might lose their savings and even their homes. On Thursday, October 12, shares dropped vertically with no one buying and speculators were sold out as they failed to respond to margin calls. Then came Black Tuesday, October 19, and the first selling of sound stocks to raise desperately needed liquidity.
By the end of the day on October 24, eleven men well-known on Wall Street had committed suicide. The immediate panic subsided on November 13, at which point the index had fallen from 452 to 224. That was indeed a severe correction but it has to be remembered that in December 1928 the index had been 245, only 21 points higher.
After the crash
Main article: Great Depression
By July 8, 1932, New York Times industrials had fallen from 224 at the end of the initial panic to 58. U.S. Steel, the world’s biggest and most efficient steel-maker, which had been 262 points before the market broke in 1929, was now only 22. General Motors, already one of the best-run and most successful manufacturing groups in the world, had fallen from 73 to 8. These calamitous falls were gradually reflected in the real economy. Industrial production, which had been 114 in August 1929, was 54 by March 1933, a fall of more than half, while manufactured durables fell by 77 per cent, nearly four-fifths. Business construction fell from $8.7 billion in 1929 to only $1.4 billion in 1933.
Unemployment rose over the same period from a mere 3.2 per cent to 24.9 per cent in 1933 and 26.7 per cent the following year. At one point 34 million men, women, and children were without any income at all, and this figure excluded farm families who were also desperately hit. City revenues collapsed, schools and universities shut or went bankrupt, and malnutrition leapt to 20 per cent, something that had never happened before in United States history even in the harsh early days of settlement.
This pattern was repeated all over the industrial world. It was the worst slump in history, and the most protracted. Indeed there was no natural recovery. France, for instance, did not get back to its 1929 level of industrial production until the mid-1950s.
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- ↑Mark Atherton. "The beginner's guide to stock markets", Times Online, May 8, 2009. Referenced 2011-03-23.
- ↑Encyclopædia Britannica. "stock market crash of 1929.", Encyclopædia Britannica Online'. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 23 Mar. 2011. Referenced 2011-03-23.
- ↑Thomas E. Woods, Jr. "Warren Harding and the Forgotten Depression of 1920", First Principles, Fall 2009 issue of The Intercollegiate Review. See also the video. Referenced 2009-10-11.
- ↑Murray N. Rothbard. "The Mystery of Banking" (pdf), Chapter XVI: Central banking in the United States IV: The Federal Reserve System, p.235-246, referenced 2009-10-03.
- ↑Murray N. Rothbard. "America’s Great Depression" (pdf), 5. The Development of the Inflation, p. 137-167, referenced 2009-11-17.
- ↑ 6.06.16.2Paul Johnson. "Paul Johnson on Rothbard", Mises Daily, May 15, 2000. Referenced 2011-03-23.
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The following events occurred in October 1929:
- 1October 1, 1929 (Tuesday)
- 2October 2, 1929 (Wednesday)
- 3October 3, 1929 (Thursday)
- 4October 4, 1929 (Friday)
- 5October 5, 1929 (Saturday)
- 6October 6, 1929 (Sunday)
- 7October 7, 1929 (Monday)
- 8October 8, 1929 (Tuesday)
- 9October 9, 1929 (Wednesday)
- 10October 10, 1929 (Thursday)
- 11October 11, 1929 (Friday)
- 12October 12, 1929 (Saturday)
- 13October 13, 1929 (Sunday)
- 14October 14, 1929 (Monday)
- 15October 15, 1929 (Tuesday)
- 16October 16, 1929 (Wednesday)
- 17October 17, 1929 (Thursday)
- 18October 18, 1929 (Friday)
- 19October 19, 1929 (Saturday)
- 20October 20, 1929 (Sunday)
- 21October 21, 1929 (Monday)
- 22October 22, 1929 (Tuesday)
- 23October 23, 1929 (Wednesday)
- 24October 24, 1929 (Thursday)
- 25October 25, 1929 (Friday)
- 26October 26, 1929 (Saturday)
- 27October 27, 1929 (Sunday)
- 28October 28, 1929 (Monday)
- 29October 29, 1929 (Tuesday)
- 30October 30, 1929 (Wednesday)
- 31October 31, 1929 (Thursday)
October 1, 1929 (Tuesday)
- Britain restored diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.
- Died:Antoine Bourdelle, 67, French sculptor, painter and teacher
October 2, 1929 (Wednesday)
October 3, 1929 (Thursday)
- The country officially known as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes changed its name to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
- The biggest prison riot in the history of Colorado State Penitentiary began when a failed escape attempt by two inmates turned into a hostage situation. The National Guard, civilian volunteers and police from nearby districts were called in and prepared to lay siege.
- Chinese and Soviet troops battled for Manzhouli.
- The musical film Sunny Side Up, starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, premiered at the Gaiety Theatre in New York City.
- Mahatma Gandhi visited Azamgarh, where he addressed a meeting of about 75000 persons at Srikrishna Pathsala High School.
- Died:Jeanne Eagels, 39, American actress; Gustav Stresemann, 51, German politician and statesman (stroke)
October 4, 1929 (Friday)
- The Colorado State Penitentiary riot ended in the early morning with its leaders all dead. With the prospects of escape clearly hopeless, one of the leaders shot his accomplices and then himself. In all, eight prison guards and five inmates were killed.
- The Victor Talking Machine Company was merged with RCA to form RCA-Victor, with RCA holding 50 percent of the stock, General Electric 30 percent, and Westinghouse Electric 20 percent.
- Ramsay MacDonald arrived in New York City and proceeded to Washington, D.C. by train, where he had an introductory 20-minute meeting with President Herbert Hoover. MacDonald became the first sitting British Prime Minister to ever visit the United States.
- The Fritz Lang-directed silent science fiction film Frau im Mond(Woman in the Moon) premiered in Berlin.
October 5, 1929 (Saturday)
October 6, 1929 (Sunday)
October 7, 1929 (Monday)
October 8, 1929 (Tuesday)
October 9, 1929 (Wednesday)
October 10, 1929 (Thursday)
October 11, 1929 (Friday)
- By two votes, the U.S. Senate eased American censorship laws by passing an amendment to a tariff bill to exempt books and pamphlets from a ban on the importation of obscene content (restrictions against other media, such as paintings and photographs, remained in place). However, the amendment included a new prohibition against books or drawings urging forcible resistance to the laws of the United States or threats against any American's life. The amendment would be revoked in March 1930.
October 12, 1929 (Saturday)
October 13, 1929 (Sunday)
October 14, 1929 (Monday)
October 15, 1929 (Tuesday)
October 16, 1929 (Wednesday)
- Lists were opened in Germany for the signing of a petition for a national referendum to deny Germany's war guilt and refuse to obey the Young Plan. 10% of all the country's eligible voters would be required to sign up before the referendum could be considered binding.
- The British government made a concession to the country's coal miners by informing their unions that there would be a uniform reduction of work hours from 8 down to 7 and a half per day without reduction of wages. The miners had sought repeal of the Eight Hours Act passed by the Stanley Baldwin government and reversion to the old 7 hour day.
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 3.2% as the New York Stock Exchange posted widespread losses, with numerous declines of 10 points or more.
- Born:S. William Green, politician, in New York City (d. 2002)
October 17, 1929 (Thursday)
October 18, 1929 (Friday)
- The Privy Council of England made a landmark decision recognizing women as "persons" under the law in Canada, giving them the right to be appointed to the Senate. The decision was a victory for five Alberta women known as "The Famous Five". October 18 is now commemorated as Persons Day in Canada.
- 100 protestors in Brussels rioted and threw stones at the Italian embassy in opposition to the news of the engagement of Princess Marie José to Crown Prince Umberto of Italy. The engagement was unpopular in Belgium because Italian leader Benito Mussolini was disliked there. Police dispersed the rioters by firing over their heads.
- Several battalions of Chinese troops mutinied at Wuhu.
- The New York Stock Exchange declined again, losing 2.51%.
October 19, 1929 (Saturday)
- The Soviet Union recognized Mohammed Nadir Shah as ruler of Afghanistan.
- The New York Stock Exchange posted more big losses amid a wave of selling.
October 20, 1929 (Sunday)
- In Berlin, 2 were reported killed in violence that erupted when Stahlhelm clashed with police as they demonstrated in favor of the anti-Young Plan referendum and pushed towards the presidential mansion despite a police ban on street parades. Police also repelled a Stahlhelm attempt to storm a Jewish synagogue.
- Born:Colin Jeavons, actor, in Newport, Wales
October 21, 1929 (Monday)
- The Edison Institute of Technology was dedicated in Dearborn, Michigan on the fiftieth anniversary of Thomas Edison's invention of the lightbulb. "Every American owes a debt to him", President Hoover said in a speech honoring the 82-year-old inventor. "It is not alone a debt for great benefactions he has brought to mankind, but also a debt for the honor he has brought to our country. Mr. Edison, by his own genius and effort, rose from modest beginnings to membership among the leaders of men. His life gives renewed confidence that our institutions hold open the door of opportunity to all those who would enter."
- The giant Dornier Do X German seaplane had a successful 50-minute test flight over Lake Constance with 169 people aboard.
- The stock market dropped 3.71%. Communication lines were swamped with calls as a record 3.1 million shares changed hands in the first two hours, and many investors did not know where they stood through the day as the ticker fell more than 60 minutes behind at one point.
- Born:Ursula K. Le Guin, science fiction and fantasy author, in Berkeley, California
October 22, 1929 (Tuesday)
- James Scullin became the 9th Prime Minister of Australia.
- French Prime Minister Aristide Briand and his entire cabinet resigned after the government was defeated on a confidence vote over its Rhineland evacuation policy.
- "The present decline is a healthy reaction, which probably has overrun itself. There is nothing alarming about it", National City Bank chairman Charles E. Mitchell said about recent losses in the stock market. "In a market like this fundamentals are the things to look for, and if you can show me anything wrong with the situation generally, then I will be concerned."
- The New York Stock Exchange gained 1.75% on a day of optimism and relatively light trading. Nine out of ten market letters sent out by commission houses predicted a rally amid a general feeling that the situation had already bottomed out.
- The train ferry SS SS Milwaukee sank during a storm in Lake Michigan off Milwaukee with the loss of all 52 hands.
- The Brazilian airline Panair do Brasil began operation as NYRBA do Brasil S.A.
- Born:Lev Yashin, footballer, in Moscow, USSR (d. 1990)
October 23, 1929 (Wednesday)
October 24, 1929 (Thursday)
- Black Thursday: the Wall Street Crash of 1929 began. The morning opened with a deluge of panic selling, causing prices to drop sharply. After a midday emergency meeting at J.P. Morgan & Co., prices recovered in the afternoon due in large part to a pool of investment bankers buying to prop up the market, a solution that worked in the short term and limited the market's fall for the day to only 2.09%. A new one-day record 12,880,900 shares were sold.
- Born:Clifford Rose, actor, in Hamnish Clifford, England
October 25, 1929 (Friday)
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.58%, giving investors hope that the worst was over.
- President Hoover made a formal statement indirectly addressing the stock market situation. "The fundamental business of the country, that is, the production and distribution of commodities, is on a sound and prosperous basis", Hoover said.
- Steel industrialist Charles M. Schwab told an audience that there was no reason why industrial prosperity should not continue indefinitely if the balance between production and consumption was maintained.
- Chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr. said that from his viewpoint, general business was never so good and that prospects were "bright all over the world". Sears, Roebuck & Company President Robert E. Wood shared his optimism, saying, "We think the outlook remains the same as before the break. We are going to do the biggest month's business in our history this month."
- Business theorist Roger Babson, who predicted in early September that a stock market crash was coming, said that declines would continue but in a more orderly fashion. "Crazy markets such as we had yesterday must be followed by a resting up", Babson explained, adding, "Speculative buying for profit is over for a while. The buying from now on will be of a legitimate investment nature."
- In Krasnodar, Soviet authorities executed 21 men for anti-government activities.
- Ramsay MacDonald ended his visit to the United States and Canada, boarding a ship in Quebec headed back for Britain.
October 26, 1929 (Saturday)
October 27, 1929 (Sunday)
- Parliamentary elections in Czechoslovakia were won by the Republican Party of Agricultural and Smallholder Peoples.
- In Rome, Benito Mussolini addressed 60,000 Blackshirts gathered to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the March on Rome. "Italy today is what I wanted it to be – an army of citizens and soldiers ready for works of peace, laborious, silent and disciplined", Mussolini declared. "And if tomorrow someone wished to disturb the peaceful rhythm of the development of our people, if someone wanted to break this superb unity of spirit, would you answer to my call, Blackshirts?" The legions roared in the affirmative.
- 3 arrests were made during a demonstration of 500 communists outside the American embassy in London protesting the sentences of the textile workers in the Loray Mill Strike.
October 28, 1929 (Monday)
October 29, 1929 (Tuesday)
- Black Tuesday: the stock market fell another 11.73%. With all hopes of a quick recovery now gone, sellers outnumbered buyers ten to one as a record 16.4 million shares exchanged hands.
- Assistant Secretary of Commerce Julius Klein gave a national radio address reassuring the American people that there was no reason to change the president's statement of last Friday. "The number of citizens whose buying ability has been affected by the decline in the value of speculative securities is not very large", Klein said. "Their purchases do not make up a very significant fraction of the demand for goods. There is no reason why the twenty-five or more million families, representing over 95 percent of our population whose incomes remain undiminished should cut down their purchases of commodities, and therefore very few industries should see any appreciable reduction in the sales of their output."
- Industrialist John J. Raskob announced he was reentering the stock market for the first time in months. "Prudent investors are now buying stocks in huge quantities and will profit handsomely when this hysteria is over and our people have opportunity in calmer moments to appreciate the great stability of business by reason of the sound fundamental economic conditions existing in this great country", Raskob said.
- The steamboat SS Wisconsin foundered during an early morning storm off the coast of Kenosha, Wisconsin. 60 were rescued but 12 crew were lost.
- The enrollment period for the German referendum expired.
- Died:Emily Robin, 54 or 55, English Madame
October 30, 1929 (Wednesday)
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 12.34% as traders went looking for bargains. The volume of trading eased to 10.7 million shares as many investors decided to hold on to their stocks and wait for the market to recover.
- A general election was held in the Canadian province of Ontario. The Conservative Party led by Howard Ferguson was re-elected with an increased majority. Government-controlled liquor sales were legal in Ontario and the Conservatives were the only significant "wet" party, so the matter of prohibition in the province was considered definitively settled.
- Étienne Clémentel accepted the task of trying to form the next French government after Édouard Daladier was unsuccessful.
- John D. Rockefeller released a rare public statement from his home. "Believing that fundamental conditions of the country are sound and that there is nothing in the business situation to warrant the destruction of values that has taken place on the exchanges in the last week, my son and I have for some days been purchasing sound common stocks. We are continuing and will continue our purchases in substantial amounts at levels which we believe represent sound investment values", the statement read.
October 31, 1929 (Thursday)
- The Dow Jones recovered another 5.82% on a half-day of trading.
- Nova Scotia voted to repeal prohibition in a referendum, leaving Prince Edward Island as the only "dry" region left in all of Canada.
- Viceroy of IndiaLord Irwin announced that a round table conference would be held to determine the country's future. The declaration included an almost offhand remark that the "natural issue of India's constitutional progress" was "the attainment of Dominion Status", but the statement became very controversial in Britain.
- Born:Robert Utley, author and historian, in Bauxite, Arkansas; Bud Spencer, Italian actor, in Naples, Italy (d. 2016)
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